Emotional Spending – How my Emotional Spending Manifests

Emotional Spending

I am an emotional spender. And I had a meltdown yesterday in London. I wanted to talk through the stages I experienced, how I tried to fight and how I ultimately gave in to the demand and spent. In the hope that writing it down for you to read and for me pick the stages apart, it might help me not do it.

Emotional Spending

First Money Memory

I have always used spending as an emotional fix. If I go right back to childhood and my first memory of money. My first memory is counting my dads’ 20p pieces that he used to collect in a tankard. I would often steal a few of them to go buy my 1985 Smash Hits Panini stickers. £1 would get me 5 packets.

There was the buzz from getting some money for free (or stealing from my dad) and then the buzz of getting my stickers, opening them up with the excitement of a wanted picture of Wham, Bananarama or Duran Duran. I even cite this experience is how I discovered George Michael, the real love of my childhood and former years.

My first jobs as a teenager

I learnt the buzz of shopping at the tender age of 8. Fast Forward. I got a job as soon as I could, 14 in those days. And loved getting my monthly salary to go shopping with MY OWN money and go out with my friends. I did as many hours as the manager would let me. I worked in a shoe shop and there was always extra money on offer for those of us who hit targets and sold lots of add on (suede protector was always the easy extra sale).

At the age of 16 I moved shops and went up the ladder from Shoe shop to Dorothy Perkins, the most coveted teen job in Penzance town centre. The money was better, more hours were available, and you got a 25% discount on clothes!

Money has always been important to me, striving to earn as much as I could, but also to be able to spend money on the things that I wanted. I’ve got a clear memory of the day I bought that peach (yes peach in colour) soft to touch suit aged 16. Jacket and skirt. Where on earth did I go, wearing a smart peach skirt suit? That cost me £70 (with a 25% discount).

A graduate and my first Full Time job

Fast forward a few more years to my first full time job after university. My graduate job was with HSBC where I started working in their finance department in 1999. It was a great job; my starting salary was £25k. I was 22 and my first pay day was a bumper. It was so exciting.

The very first thing I did was head to Louis Vuitton in Selfridges and buy myself a wallet. I spent £225 of my first pay cheque on a new wallet. My first experience of designer shopping and I was hooked. I still consider Selfridges as one of my happy places in London.

Flip right into Tuesday 13th August 2019

It is a strange week this week. I am without my children for a whole 7 days. This is the week I needed mid-summer holidays to catch up on my work, meetings, writing, planning. I have arranged many fun things. Seeing friends, lots of writing, so much writing, and some time to just think. Digest the things going on around me. And a few London meetings.

I am also going through pretty stressful times. Things are happening that are having a huge impact on my mental and physical health. But also, there is so much good to balance out the relatively small bits of bad. I have my beautiful boys and we are having such a fun summer together, my business is flourishing like you would never believe (certainly not me 4 years ago would have thought I would be here now, with my achievements) and I have the most incredible friends who have wrapped their wings around me with their protection, knowledge and compassion.


So, I am stressed. At 4:30pm my meetings end, and I think what I can do. I want to see ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ but it opens on 14th Aug. I quite fancy going to Royal Academy of Arts, but it is only open for another hour. And then I remembered Selfridges. My go to shop for wondering around, browsing the beautiful things.

I did indeed have a lovely browse around the books, home ware, candles, bags, stationery. Nothing really grabbed me, but always in the back of my mind was, go visit Prada. Go on Lynn, just go have a little look.

I can only describe it like a little nagging devil on my right shoulder. And there is a virtuous sensible angel on my left shoulder. That devil kept nagging me, go have a look in Prada. Its just a look and you might see something you like; you deserve something nice. You have been stressed and working hard, you have some spare money in you bank account. Go on go get something nice.

Emotional Spending

Yep this is the conversation I am having with myself.

Then the angel takes over and says go sit somewhere and have a chill out. And think about what you are doing. So, I did. I went to the corner bar in Selfridges, which isn’t the cheapest, but you can get a nice cocktail and a carafe of rose is £16. Not too bad for Selfridges and central London. I sat there for two hours and wrote a wonderful piece on #secondhandseptember (no buying of clothes during the month of September) which was also very ironic given I was sat in one of the most expensive shops in London.

Once my writing was done the devil started to nag again. Just go have a look at Prada, its only a few metres away. Go look at the clothes. So, I did. I went and had a little browse. The clothes are interesting. Not really my style, some far too old for me and other pieces far too young. And everything was to expensive. Found a nice military style dress, £950. Found a very special bright pink squishy shiny shopper bag. ITS MADE OF FABRIC. And it was also £950. Had to take a picture to demonstrate.

Emotional Spending

Then Devil Spots the big Prada store

And then I went downstairs to find somewhere quiet to do a radio interview planned for 9pm. But via the walk I saw the big Prada accessory store. I had a little look and found some cute card wallets. That little devil, Lynn, you need one of these. Your big wallet is too big, you never take it anywhere with anymore, you need something smaller. Angel ask how much the card wallet is, it’s going to be too much money. Devil if its less than £200 it’s a bargain and you so deserve something new.

There is a pink card wallet, I love purple and pink. And its priced at £170. I literally take 2 seconds to reflect and decide, yes. I don’t even give angel a chance to deter me from my decision. And I buy it. And I walk away 5 minutes later proudly grasping my Prada white bag with ribbon a flowing.

Emotional Spending

By the time I wake up I am doubting my decision, and my angel is saying just return it. You have time and the receipt. Just take it back. But then devil interrupts and says no its cute, its pink, you can afford it, you have spare money.

And right now, I am torn. And I don’t know what to do. So, I do nothing. And maybe do something extra work wise to earn that £170 back.

Do you experience emotional spending? How do you stop yourself? What are your triggers?


More to explore


Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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